Hawke's Bay Today

Tickner smiling assassin for Caps

Stags’ paceman revels in electric atmosphere as he takes his first wicket for NZ in T20 decider against India

- Anendra Singh

You always hope there’ll be a few wickets along the way. Black Cap Blair Tickner

Blair Tickner says the electric atmosphere in the third and final match of the Twenty20 internatio­nal series between New Zealand and India was addictive at Seddon Park, Hamilton, and he’s yearning for more. “It was quite crazy out there, with all the Indians who were on top of us, so it felt pretty much like being in India when I got my wicket,” said Tickner, who made his internatio­nal debut for the Black Caps as they wrapped up the series 2-1 on Sunday. The Ruahine Motors Central Hawke’s Bay CC premier men’s club cricketer’s full-toss wicket ball, which captain Kane Williamson brilliantl­y caught at mid on from a mistimed shot from Rishabh Pant for 28 runs, broke a promising partnershi­p as the Black Caps went on to pip India by four runs. “I’m pretty sure I said I was going to bowl a slow and wide ball but it ended up coming out quite full so, nah, it was the plan to go out wide so I was pretty happy with that in the end,” the 25-year-old right-arm medium/fast bowler said with a laugh. Tickner said Pant, the heir apparent to veteran wicketkeep­er MS Dhoni, was finding some rhythm with the bat so he was delighted to have picked him up as his milestone scalp for New Zealand. “He was pretty excited that I had just gone in there to break up that partnershi­p,” he said of Williamson. “It was a really good experience and Steady just said to go out there and have some fun,” the Central Districts Stags white-ball merchant said of Black Caps coach Gary Stead. “It was an enjoyable experience out there with the lads so it contribute­d to the game.” Adhering to the mantra of his Central Districts mentor Heinrich Malan, Tickner said he trusted his processes to commit to each delivery because of the beast Twenty20 cricket can be. “You always hope there’ll be a few wickets along the way but there’s always going to be a few boundaries to the embankment so you just hope you do your best.” Veteran Tim Southee, among others, offered him some encouragem­ent during his spells. “He’s obviously a very experience­d bowler so he was just saying to me to back myself and just focus on which ball I was intending to bowl and stay pretty relaxed to have some fun.” Fun Ticker certainly had with a fixed, radiant smile etched on his face after every delivery. He finished with 1-34 from his four overs to be the most frugal bowler, going for 8.5 runs an over. He said Stead lauded him for taking the game in his stride with a smile to catch the batsman and the fans on the hop with a pliant maiden delivery to India captain Rohit Sharma. “The nerves went away after my first ball and I just went to work as usual although before it was a little bit daunting . . . all the nerves went away after the well-deserved win.” Tickner, who hits the deck with venom by using his height and mixes it up to tickle the unsuspecti­ng batsmen in the ribs from an uncomforta­ble length, put his four overs down to great experience because the Indians didn’t get much out of him. “I’d like to be bowling a lot more quicker but it was my first game and I wasn’t hitting my rhythm 100 per cent so it was good changes in pace to come out to see how good I went.” No doubt national selectors would have recognised Tickner brings a refreshing­ly new dimension to a Black Caps’ attack that tends to have a modicum of sameness about it. It was a special moment before the game to receive his first New Zealand cap from fellow Black Caps seamer Doug Bracewell. “Dougie gave me my first Stags baggy as well so it was a nice touch to have my first New Zealand one given by him as well,” Tickner said, revealing it was now a Black Caps ritual for debutants to have someone from their major associatio­n present them their caps. “Dougie just said go out there and have some fun . . . the boys are going to back you up so go hard out there.” Tickner said it was imperative to take that spring in his step back to the Stags’ fold. The Tom Bruce-captained CD are reloading against the Auckland Aces at Eden Park outer oval from 4.10pm on Friday in a televised Burger King Super Smash T20 semifinal match. The Stags lost their previous encounter by nine wickets against the Aces at the same venue last Saturday in a failed bid to secure the home ground of Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, for the eliminator final to face leaders Northern Districts Knights in the grand final on Sunday. “You have to take it back to the Stags now,” Tickner said of CD, who are on the cusp of retaining their fourday, red-ball Plunket Shield. “To play for the Black Caps is very special and I, obviously, want to play more cricket for my country so, hopefully, it’s not too far away.” Several Stags had made their way to Seddon Park from Auckland to watch Tickner make his debut and so did his parents, paternal grandparen­ts and friends. “They all loved it and it was just a great atmosphere out there and they all had fun.”

 ?? Photo / Photosport ?? Black Caps debutant Blair Tickner exchanges high fives with wicketkeep­er Tim Seifert while Tim Southee and captain Kane Williamson join the party at Seddon Park, Hamilton, on Sunday.
Photo / Photosport Black Caps debutant Blair Tickner exchanges high fives with wicketkeep­er Tim Seifert while Tim Southee and captain Kane Williamson join the party at Seddon Park, Hamilton, on Sunday.
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